AUSTIN – Patience as much as skill will be tested during the opening days of this year’s spring turkey season, as Texas hunters may be forced to wait out the natural pecking order to get a gobbler’s attention.
According to biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), recent field observations suggest hens are slowly becoming receptive, and breeding activity should be peaking over the next few weeks.
“Things are changing daily as gobblers are strutting and hens are slowly becoming receptive,” said Jason Hardin, TPWD Upland Game Bird Program specialist. “That means many hens could become interested in breeding near opening day of the season, effectively hampering a hunter’s chances of luring love-struck gobblers. If you do go early in the season some of the best hunting could be mid-day after hens split off from toms.
“By week three most hens should be bred and hunting should be good from the time the toms leave the roost until they go back up for the night,” he noted. “Also, if conditions remain mild and if we get a few more timely rain events, Texas can expect another good year of nesting and populations growth.”
Biologists report habitat conditions in South Texas are shaping up in a hurry. There has been enough rain to green up the landscape with bluebonnets, wine cups, and other flowers popping up quickly. As for the rest of the state, the landscape should follow suit week-by-week moving northward. One region of concern is the Rolling Plains, where the landscape is very dry with limited rain in the last six months.
The spring season for Rio Grande turkey gets under way March 10-11 with a youth-only weekend in the South Zone, followed by a general season that runs March 17-April 29 and then culminates with a youth-only weekend May 5-6. In the North Zone, the youth-only weekend seasons are March 24-25 and May 19-20. The North Zone general season opens March 31 and runs through May 13. A special one-gobbler limit season runs April 1-30 in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam, and Wharton counties.
Eastern spring turkey hunting in the counties having an open season is April 15-May 14. Hunters are required to report harvest of eastern turkeys electronically to TPWD within 24 hours of harvest. Reports can be made through the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest App or online from the TPWD turkey page at www.tpwd.texas.gov/turkey . The app is available for free download from Google Play or the App Store. Hunters will be issued a confirmation number upon completion of the reporting process. Hunters still have to tag harvested birds.
The harvest reporting app can also be used as a tool for voluntarily reporting and tracking harvests of other resident game species, including Rio Grande turkey. With My Texas Hunt Harvest, hunters can log harvested game animals and view harvest history, including dates and locations of every hunt.